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Other ways to benefit from the Acai Berry beyond the smoothie

First, the pronunciation: Ah-sigh-ee

Second, what is it? It's a fruit that comes from a palm tree in the Brazilian Amazon. It's likened to a small grape with less pulp. Because the berry loses nearly all of its nutritional value 24 hours post harvest, the berries are immediately turned into a puree, flash pasteurized, and then frozen.

Third, why is it considered a superfood? Loads of antioxidants (more than blueberries, 20x what is in red wine and 10x that of grapes), amino acids, flavonoids, and fatty acids (meaning healthy omega fats). This is a helpful summary of the acai berry's super food properties.

Last, what does it taste like? The answer depends upon which product you are trying. The pure, no sugar added, acai is rather bland. A sort of berry flavor that is a little gritty. There are numerous acai based products. Whole Foods sells the Sambazon brand which manufactures juices, pre-made smoothies, energy drinks, sorbet, frozen smoothies packs, and even supplements (freeze dried powders and capsules). With the exception of a certain type of smoothie pack (Sambazon Pure Acai) and the supplements, nearly all acai based products have added sugars.

So, this brings me to the topic at hand--how to benefit from the acai without making a smoothie, taking a pill, or drinking a special juice that has extra sugars?

After learning about the berry and all of its nutritional benefits, I wanted to introduce acai to our 2 year old daughter, who only drinks water and milk (meaning the juices were a BIG NO-go). While a smoothie would work, I wanted something easier. My solution? Oatmeal!

When I make a batch of oatmeal, I melt in one of the pure acai packets into the oatmeal toward the end of cooking. Each packet is 100 grams, yields 80 calories, 6 grams of total fat with 4.5 grams being the healthy type, 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein. Vitamin A comes in at 15%, C at 8%, Calcium at 4% and Iron at 6%!

Make Acai Oatmeal

I typically prepare 3 cups of the Trader Joe's organic old fashioned oats on the stove and use 1 acai smoothie pack. I first cover the oats in water and heat. I then add fat-free milk or almond milk to get the consistency I desire (thick). I also add 1-2 T  cinnamon (antioxidant boost).  I sometimes sweeten with a little buckwheat honey and/or agave nectar.

Serving it up

A batch lasts all week. I scoop a "chunk" into a bowl, add almond milk (365 Brand Original Vanilla), and heat. I then top with chopped bananas and a sprinkle of chia seeds. Mom/Dad tip:  Instead of storing the whole batch in the fridge, portion out a week's worth into bowls. Each morning you can simply pull out a bowl and add the desired toppings. Quick. Easy.

Other ideas: I sometimes add one Nature's Path Hemp Plus packet to the mix to get more nutrients and flavor. For the acai, you can also mash it with bananas, or mix it into plain Greek style yogurt--which will keep it from getting too runny.  More about oatmeal here.

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